The country logged on Saturday less than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases for the fifth straight day as the Department of Health said restrictions on public transportation and establishments will be lifted once the shift to a “new normal” takes effect.
The country’s active COVID-19 cases fell to 84,229 as the Department of Health yesterday recorded 10,662 new recoveries and only 3,792 fresh infections.
Of the more than 3.63 million people infected since the pandemic began, DOH said 96.2 percent or 3,495,209 have recovered.
The DOH logged 76 fatalities, bringing the death toll to 54,930.
The positivity rate stood at 14.3 percent, with 36 percent of the ICU beds nationwide in use, along with32 percent of isolation beds and 29 percent of ward beds dedicated for COVID-19 patients.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the shift to a new normal will begin once the community quarantine level is downgraded to Alert Level 1.
“Once we are already at Alert Level 1, that will be our protocol: all restrictions for establishments and public transport will be lifted,” Vergeire said.
“Alert Level 1 really is our new normal. But we must be prepared to have that mindset that we would still be practicing the safety protocols even if there are no restrictions in place,” she said.
The mandatory use of face masks, however, would be the last to go, Vergeire said in an earlier interview Friday.
“What would be retained would be our self-regulation,” Vergeire said.
People would still be expected to maintain minimum health standards—with masking, washing of hands, physical distancing, and maintaining good ventilation indoors.
Among the restrictions, she said, the mandatory wearing of face masks would be the last to go, because they afford protection, not just from COVID-19, but also from other respiratory diseases.
Dr. Edsel Salvana of the DOH-Technical Advisory Group said the easing of the rule regarding face masks would be done gradually.
“Maybe outdoors first before the indoors, and the vulnerable population may possibly hang on to their masks a little longer. And for instance, during long trips in airlines,” Salvana said.